Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Longing for the Sea Again

If you want to build a ship,
don't drum up people to collect wood
and don't assign them tasks and work,
but rather teach them to long for
the endless immensity of the sea.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I sat in church yesterday, and 
I hadn’t been for a while.
Over the past year or two, our church 
has gone through many changes.
The pastors are gone, most of the people
are gone, and the sense of identity is gone.
I sat there, taking in the worship,
trying to figure out who I was in this place.

It’s devastating when community breaks.
These relationships were among
the most important that I had.
I got saved in this church, 
and right from the first saved breath, 
I knew that I loved Jesus so much.
And everything began out of our desire
to serve Him with all we had.
But at some point, the yearning for the sea
got snuffed out by ship building
and managing sailors.
We had some magnificent looking ships and
our sailors were top notch.
We played by the rules because rules
ensured success. If we do X, we will get Y.
And it was all looking pretty spectacular.

Until the curtain got pulled back.
And it became clear that it was 
looking more like the city of man
than the holy temple of God.
And it all came crashing down.

There is so much pain in crashing down
cities and ripping apart relationships.
But in the pain, God’s steady hand 
stayed extended. He held us tight. 
Can we get back to when this was really
about the love of the sea?

So as I stood there, I could still feel the pain 
of a community left in shambles. 
I stood there not knowing where I fit.
I stood there not even knowing IF I fit.
But I also stood there knowing that
it really didn’t matter.
Because God was leading us all
on a journey back to Himself.

And I looked around, grateful for
the faces that were still there.
They are solid extensions 
of the grace that is Christ.
God has allowed us to step away and
sort through the rubble of devastation.
He points to things that needed to come down.
And reminds me that unless He builds it,
its laborers work in vain.

And I breathe in gratefulness. And peace.
It doesn’t take away the pain.
But there is grace, and mercy,
and the faithfulness of Him who is bigger
than the circumstances of the past.
He reminds me that there is a
future and a hope as I follow Him.
We are getting ready to head out to sea.
And I can already smell the water and
feel the salt air on my face.
It is well with my soul.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

That Yellow Sign

I am becoming more aware of the need to
"life" my thoughts. Minute by minute.
I have found myself in drainage ditches 
a few too many times. 
And they are hard to get out of.

Every day, thoughts fly at us. 
I watch how quickly batters must decide  
how to handle 100 mph pitches flying at them. 
They practice that over and over. 
They figure out what’s not working,
 making adjustments to get it right.

Often my thoughts come at me like that. 
Just this morning, not awake all that long,
I identified a battle with discouragement, 
comparison, and disappointment. 
Not big battles. Just a thought or two 
that flew in to greet the day. 
I realized I needed to do some adjusting. 
Quickly. 
It comes down to fixing our thoughts on 
things that are true, beautiful, gracious. 
These are not our go-to thoughts, 
so we have to practice. Over and over. 
There's change-ups and curve balls.
We have to identify what's coming.
And make adjustments.

Our health depends on handling 
speeding fast thoughts. 
We have to practice like it matters-- 
because it really does.
My health recently took a hit, and
I'm convinced it was partially because I allowed
my thoughts to drive fear for many years.

The Holy Spirit holds this sign up every day.
“Keep out. Drainage Ditch."
I am trying to hear in yellow that I might
choose wisely from here on out.
His mercies are able to make all things new.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Breathing Prayer

"There are days, or nights,or long stretches 
of weeks or months or even years,
when breathing is the only prayer we’ve got.”
Deidra Riggs, A Holy Experience

I wish I hadn’t needed to write this
down the minute I read it.
It would have meant that it didn't
resonate with every part of me.
But it did and I did.

I used to know that there were
long stretches of days, even weeks
that required deep breathing.
But recently I have come to realize that
those stretches can become years.
And even more recently,
I am okay with that.

I used to feel guilty that I am still
in the midst of a breathing season.
When moving through challenging seasons,
part of you keeps insisting that you
move on and get over it.
And you have to do both to move forward.
But that’s not the whole point.

Sometimes God is engineering changes
in our DNA that requires time and trust.
All we can do is surrender to the season
and breathe our way through transition.
However long that takes.
He works in my darkness and in my silence
to bring His great light and peace.
He is changing me in the deepest places, 
and breathing deeply is my surrender
to all He is doing.

I echo the prayer and declaration in one of 
the greatest worship songs ever written:

Let me breathe the air of heaven.
I will live this life through Your eyes.
When I come I won't be a stranger,
for You have kept my life
in the way of the Lord.
"Air of Heaven," Jay Hallstrom